Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles which you can use to get discounted or even cheap flights from your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and some information, you’ll travel for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the cost is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to check those frequent flyer accounts to see which airline can give you the most value. It all comes down to the amount of miles or points in your travel account for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? First step opening a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that offer various advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit or debit card, you’ll have to meet the limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be certain to verify the details. From there, it’s all about racking up miles, and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, it’s time to use them towards delicious vacation! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own an Chase card, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to virtually every airline and you can make use of a combination of points and cash to book your next trip. You can even book completely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the total cost, you still can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying using either points or dollars? Butbe aware that if you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on one flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few points short, United provides the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. However, JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can join your points with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually about 3%. It may be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up, ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they will pay you back.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you have any loans, consider paying them off with your credit card. Be sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using your credit card. In this way, you’ll meet the minimum spending limit and be ready for giving gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, make use of the travel credit card to book your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to meet the minimum spend to earn your credit card bonus, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for those expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement to earn rewards is by using your credit card to pay everyday expenditures. This could include things like gas, groceries and even your telephone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Think about a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to a travel credit card with the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater return than using them for a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to have a wider range of choices and more freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a hotel rewards program. This will give the benefit of a larger selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that may not be offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Also, determine whether your credit card has certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related expenses. Some cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards using your credit card. Just remember that you can’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
Overall, the key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient way possible. Utilizing an array of methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.